Oct 20, 2022 - News

Iowa organizations team up to help Afghans gain residency

Illustration of a cutout of a heart in the middle of a suitcase.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The University of Iowa, Drake University and Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice are teaming together to create a one-stop shop to help Afghans in Iowa gain permanent residency.

Why it matters: The legal process to become a permanent resident in the U.S. is confusing and arduous.

  • But if the Afghan nationals don't successfully navigate it, they could be deported back to Afghanistan, where their lives are at risk.

State of play: Many of the Afghans who came here in 2021 through "Operation Allies Welcome" faced threats of violence following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

  • The U.S. military operation airlifted Afghan civilians who assisted America during the war and resettled them here.

Yes, but: While they got to come under temporary parole status, that only lasts one to two years.

  • Though Congress has tried to create a path to residency, that bill has stalled, meaning more than 1,000 Afghans in Iowa are in limbo.

Zoom in: The new group, the Afghan Legal League of Iowa, known as "ALL Iowa," aims to provide legal services to Afghan nationals.

  • The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services is providing $1.15 million over two years to help fund the project.

How it works: ALL Iowa's website provides educational resources and contact info of people who can help.

  • Eventually, the goal is to have a help desk staffed with translators.

How you can help: The group is seeking pro-bono lawyers who are willing to be trained and assist with the residency process.

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